Calling the outreach sessions offered by the IOC Athlete Career Programme (ACP) this week in Africa a resounding success, IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Claudia Bokel today said plans are already underway to expand the programme to reach even more athletes in countries that do not currently have ACPs.
“The workshops were well-attended by a very enthusiastic group of athletes in each city,” said Bokel, a silver medallist in fencing at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and Chair of the IOC ACP Steering Committee. “I think all of us – the instructors, trainees and athletes – learned a great deal during the sessions, and we can now use the feedback to improve the programme going forward. It was an excellent start and bodes well for the future of the outreach sessions.”
Learn to earn
The sessions, held between 2 and 9 November in six southern African countries*, were designed to provide athletes there with a range of job skills that can be applied during and after their sports careers. This included instruction on how to identify their passions and tips on how to pursue them after their sports careers; recognising the many transferrable skills they gain during their sports careers; advice on how to build support networks; and training on such things as CV creation and job-interview techniques.
The ACP delegation also included four-time Olympic silver medallist Frank Fredericks and Adecco Group Senior Vice President for the IOC ACP, Patrick Glennon. Adecco Group, one of the world’s leading providers of human resources solutions, is co-partner of the ACP.
IOC Athletes’ Commission members Kirsty Coventry and Amadou Dia Ba and former Olympians Sandrine Thiebauld and Kadidiatou Kanouté attended the session as trainees, with the aim of learning how to conduct their own workshops in the future. This new ‘train the trainers’ method will allow the IOC ACP Outreach Programme to expand in frequency and geographic coverage.
Striking a balance
“Each time an elite athlete steps onto the field of play they are prepared to deliver their best as a result of their dedication and preparation,” said Fredericks. “At the same time, we recognise that elite athletes will retire from sport at an early age and most will need to engage in a career after sport. To achieve success after sport requires the same preparation and commitment. Education is a key area that athletes must focus on at some level while competing. Pursuing an education while competing can add balance to an athlete’s life and with a personal balance can prepare an athlete for life after sport while enhancing their life during elite competition.”
Turnout to the sessions was excellent, with over 80 participants taking part in the workshop in Botswana, 60 in Namibia, and 50 each in Lesotho and Swaziland. The sessions were assisted by members of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) Athletes’ Commission, and country managers from the Adecco Group. Adecco worked with the IOC to establish the ACP in 2005 and since then the programme has provided career development and job placement services to more than 10,000 Olympic athletes from over 100 countries. The programme is based on providing athletes with three key tools: education, life skills and employment.
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*Mazenod, Lesotho; Windhoek, Namibia; Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa; Manzini, Swaziland; Gabarone, Botswana; and Lusaka, Zambia. The workshop in Lusaka took place in the Olympic Youth Development Centre, which opened in 2010.